Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Harry Potter Spoilers- if that is possible...


It's been two years since the last Harry Potter movie, and in the meantime, my interest has waned. Nonetheless, I was curious to see how the sixth book in the series would be portrayed on the big screen, and I was not really surprised. The book it is based on is a sort of plodding, transitional piece that, in my estimation, could have been removed from the series and not missed.

The darkness of the story line is reflected cinematically in the shadowy, dreary imagery throughout. Time and again, wands provide the only source of light to dispel the encroaching darkness. This is especially true in the scene that replaces Dumbledore's funeral. Rumor has it that this will open the next movie.

There are several themes that were hinted at in the movie but were not fully explored- that of Draco's suffering for fear of his life and that of light overcoming darkness, the nature of trust, the trustworthiness of memory, and the pitfalls of celebrity both for those who attach themselves to it and those who are afforded it. Some images were left unresolved- such as the reason for Dumbledore's withered and burnt hand.The battle at the end of the book is no where to be found.

One of the problems with the movie is its dependence upon what went before and what will come. Obviously, if one has read the series, there was little to be surprised about. For instance, the shock of the non-resistance and "murder" of Dumbledore will lose its impact if one knows "the rest of the story." The movie starts with the supposition that one remembers how the fifth movie ended, inserting the viewer into the aftermath of the public revelation that Lord Voldemort is back. The detail that made the book tolerable is missing in many places in the movie.

Many of the reviews I have read lament the daunting task of depicting the books in another medium, but surely -isn't this is the very basic thing we expect from the multimillion dollar effort? Is it asking too much? In my opinion, the makers of the movie could have by means of memory devices or flashbacks filled in some of the blanks. Instead the movie cannot stand on its own merit, rambling through some considerably less important chapters and covering other parts of the narrative in seconds, such as the explanation and point of horcruxes. Altogether missing are symbolically important passages, such as the lament of the phoenix and, as already mentioned, Dumbledore's funeral.

Fans will fill in their own blanks with details from the memory afforded by the reading of the book. I'm not so sure it will make any sense whatsoever to a non-reader.

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